Hi! I’mm Alastair, an adventurer and author. I invented the phrase #Microadventure and I’mve been shouting about it for a few years. You can follow the microadventures people are doing on social media here or say hello to me here.
This post will teach you everything about bivvy bags ready for your microadventure. If you’re looking for microadventure ideas try the Year of Microadventure Challenge, watch a few videos of my microadventures or -best of all- buy a signed copy of the best-selling Microadventures book!
This is a tent:
For overnight microadventures, however, I encourage people to try using a bivvy bag instead.
What is a bivvy bag and why do you recommend it?
- A bivvy bag is like a waterproof jacket for your sleeping bag. It’s a thin, waterproof bag. You use it over the top of your sleeping bag.
- A bivvy bag is cheaper than a tent.
- It’s a lot smaller than a tent.
- It’s very discreet and allows you to sleep on tiny patches of flat ground.
- You are not cocooned from the environment as you are in a tent. In a tent you are basically in a rubbish version of indoors. In a bivvy bag you really are outside. You feel the breeze on your face, look up at the stars before you sleep and sit up to a brilliant view in the morning.
- It feels more exciting and more wild than a tent.
- Here is a picture of a bivvy bag to give you an idea of how small they are:
What are the disadvantages of a bivvy bag?
- If it rains you will have a less pleasant night than if you were in a tent / 5 star hotel. (Taking a basha will help a lot though. Here is the extra gear you should pack if you think it might rain.)
- Even the best bivvy bags leave some condensation on your sleeping bag. For a single-night trip this is no problem, but for extended use you need to be able to hang your sleeping bag up to dry occasionally.
How do I use a bivvy bag?
- Just slip it over your sleeping bag. If I am organised I do this before leaving home rather than doing it later in the dark and pouring rain.
- Pull it up over your head when you sleep. Just leave a small gap for your mouth to breathe out of in order to minimise the condensation.
- I tend to leave my sleeping mat on the outside. If the weather is foul or if you have a large bivvy bag you can experiment with putting it inside the bivvy bag.
- Remember to take a large waterproof bag (eg bin bag) to put your other stuff into at night. I tend to use my boots and rucksac as a pillow.
- A bivvy bag is colder than a tent so make sure to take warm clothes.
Which bivvy bag should I buy?
[UPDATE: this is a very geeky, very helpful table to help you choose what’s best for you.]
If you are confident that the weather is going to be warm and dry then you don’t need one at all. I’mve slept like this on many, many nights.
If you are in the UK there is usually a risk of rain. The cheapest way to stay dry is with one of these orange survival bags. They are a handy thing to own anyway if you are heading into the hills.
The chief disadvantage of these is that you will realise in the morning how much vapour your body gives off in a night! Your sleeping bag will be quite damp. (See facial expression on man above…) But for a single night microadventure they are absolutely fine. And they only cost about £5.
Buy one here.
A step-up from the orange bin bag option is this breathable bivvy bag for £17. The British Army’s bivvy bags are good too. They are GoreTex, a discreet green and enormous (a good and bad point). Buy one here for about £40.
If you think you will use your bivvy bag regularly, for multiple nights, or if you are going to bivvy in more difficult conditions, here are a couple of really good breathable bivvy bags:
The picture below shows an Army bivvy on the left, a Rab one in the middle and a snoring Welshman in an unknown bivvy on the right.
If it’s not nice, then a basha means you’ll still have fun. I really recommend a basha if the weather is a bit dodgy!
If you do head off on a microadventure, please let me know. Tag it on Twitter with the hashtag #microadventure or pop something on the new Microadventures Facebook Page.
If you’d like to come on a microadventure with me sign up here.
If you have any friends who could benefit from a microadventure, please send them this link.
If you’re looking for microadventure ideas try the Year of Microadventure Challenge, watch a few videos of my microadventures or -best of all- buy a signed copy of the best-selling Microadventures book!
Some Other Useful Microadventure Posts
- What is a microadventure?
- Some microadventure ideas to try
- Your year of Microadventure
- Microadventure kit list
- What is a Bivvy Bag, and why do I need one?
- How to find a location for an overnight microadventure
- Sleeping Wild: is it legal? Is it safe?!
- Microadventure advice for women (written by women)
- 7-step solution to a microadventure. It’s as simple as this.
- Microadventure videos
I’mve been working hard to encourage people to get out and try a microadventure. Microadventures are a refresh button for busy lives.
But I’mm very aware that the hardest thing is getting out there for the first time. So I have produced a few infographics which hopefully will serve to give people the prod necessary to take that first step. (Thank you, Andrea, for all your hard work!)
Click on the image you prefer to open a PDF file that you can then download and keep (Right Click, Save) or share the link with any friends who need a gentle kick up the backside to get out there and do stuff! A lot of the text on the PDF infographic is clickable, leading you to relevant web entries.
Please feel free to use, distribute, print, put on your Facebook page, edit or hack as much as you wish.
Thank you to the many people who have kindly “bought me a coffee” for just £2.50 as encouragement to keep this blog going.
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Do you have any thoughts on this article? What have I forgotten or got wrong? Please have your say in the comments below…